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For as long as I can remember, I've framed pictures in my mind and put words down on paper. As I walk by something that catches my eye, I mentally compose a photo.
My first camera was a Kodak C110 that I bought in elementary school with babysitting money. My first SLR, a Pentax ME Super, was a Christmas gift from my parents when I was 17, a high-school senior. I was thrilled, though the amount of film I used didn't thrill them so much.
I carried my love of photography and writing into college, attending the University of California, San Diego. At UCSD, I obtained a BA in Visual Arts and Communications with a specialization in photography. I spent hours upon blissful hours in the darkroom watching my images come to life.
While finishing up my last couple of years of college, I traded in my real-estate admin job for a spot on the chase crew of one of the local hot-air ballooning companies. I put on many hats as that job expanded into additional office-receptionist and event-planning duties.
Being on the chase crew involved heavy lifting, dirt, dust, and the occasional rattlesnake in the field (thank goodness for a good pair of cowboy boots), but my first balloon ride was so exhilarating, it made all the effort worthwhile.
After graduation, I couldn't bear to leave the ballooning, where I was also working on obtaining my private pilot's license - I love an adventurous challenge! To accommodate work at the ballooning company, I worked a midnight to 7 a.m. job as a computer production artist and then as a color researcher for a start-up company that digitally colorized old black and white films. I was sleepless in San Diego!
During that time, I passed my written, oral, and flight test and officially became a private pilot - limited to balloons with onboard heaters.
Shortly thereafter, life changed direction when I got married and soon quit both jobs, as I struggled through 9 months of debilitating morning sickness. However, the joy of seeing my son for the first time ameliorated any suffering I endured.
When I saw that sweet creature staring back at me with those huge blue eyes, I was smitten. I agonized about going back to work. I didn't want to leave my sweet boy. I loved getting photos of him. I even won 1st place in the Johnson’s Baby “Adorable Babies Photo Contest” for a picture I took of my son.
I decided to take a correspondence course in medical transcription so I could work from home. When my son was a year, I went to work in a hospital a few days a week for a couple of years to master the transcription.
A few months after my second was born (a sweet baby girl!), my husband was offered a promotion, and we made the move from San Diego to Atlanta. I know, I know...who could leave San Diego? Sometimes you get an offer that's hard to refuse, so off to Atlanta we went. I.Miss.The.Beach.
Ten months after arriving in Atlanta, my third was born, another precious baby girl. I think you can see where this is going. I was an early adopter of telecommuting from home. I squeezed in the medical transcription 3-5 hours a day, as well as being a full-time stay-at-home mom caring for my husband and three kids, ages 4, 20 months, and newborn.
Can you say multitask? Whew! It was more than a full-time job.
Those were some blurry years with little to no sleep; but, I loved the flexibility of working from home. I took plenty of photographs, mostly of my children. When my youngest reached high school, I left the transcription for a writing opportunity.
I got a small Kodak digital camera from my husband and worked it to death, beginning to understand the digital world of photography.
So many years and several children had gone by when I found myself in another place. Suddenly, I was divorcing my husband of many years.
It was at that point that I traded the suburbs for the city life and rediscovered my love of photography as I worked to pick up the pieces of my life.
I'm constantly discovering and rediscovering what a photograph means to me.
My photography obsesses me - getting the shot that I envision with the right light, the right angle. I look for the extraordinary within the ordinary and look for the things that most people pass by on a day-to-day basis without actually seeing.
My work has themes of death, rebirth, beauty, and decay - opposing ends of the same spectrum. Influenced by the aesthetic of surrealism, some of the places I most prefer photographing are those threatened by decay, disarray, and even extinction.
Without confronting the political connotations of the spaces, the art is a reprieve from the uncertainty of the world - even as it sometimes reflects the same. I'm searching for revelations in the abandoned places that once bustled with life and activity.
Often times the scenes are dirty and dank, forgotten, and misbegotten. Still, they brim with a bright and tangible life of their own re-creation. And sometimes, it's just a beautiful photo.
I have shots of all sorts of local Atlanta scenery, and I'm happy to work on getting that specific shot you want to hang over your couch or in the hallway, bedroom, office or hotel room.
My dad (ever the optimist) said this to me some time ago: “Susan, the last few years you've been living in a storm. But, it seems to me that you’ve been dancing between the raindrops.”
So...See you between the raindrops!
Need something special? Don't hesitate to let me know! Susan@susanjphotography.com
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